By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
A British court on Wednesday rejected Ankara’s request for extradition of three suspects linked to the Fetullah Terror Organization (FETO), the group behind the July 2016 defeated coup in Turkey.
The Westminster Magistrates Court said former Koza Holding director Hamdi Akin Ipek and two other defendants -- Talip Buyuk, the alleged “imam” of the terror group in Iraq, and Bank Asya director Ali Celik -- are not to be extradited to Turkey, but the verdict is open to appeal.
Turkey has a right to appeal the court’s verdict within 14 days.
Ipek was detained in May after Turkey's request for his extradition over charges related to the coup attempt.
A court confiscated his passport and banned him from leaving London but released him on a £50,000 ($66,000) bail, a common procedure in extradition cases in the U.K.
Ipek, accused of attempting to overthrow Turkey’s government and violating the Constitution, may face up to two aggravated life sentences.
He also faces a possible 132 years in prison for setting up an armed terror group, military and political espionage, forging documents, and money laundering in Turkey.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.